9 DAIES' WONDER - FIRST DAY 12 TH JULY 2006

Distance on Map: 11.6 miles. Pedometer Reading 13.2 miles

Our day started early.   Not for reasons of an early start to the jig, but because an interview had been arranged with Radio Bristol for 8.40. As we arrived at Corn Street the Farmers' Market   was still setting up and most people stared at the sight of the costumes and the sound of my bells. A few heads shook and sighs were heaved. We tried to pretend that it was all perfectly normal to be dressed in three quarter length woollen breeches and embroidered doublets in the middle of a heat wave.

The interview came and went - I felt tongue tied and incoherent but then it was early. Friends and press began to arrive and an appreciable buzz arose as we danced the first jigs for the cameras The Press call went on for about twenty minutes and then up on to the stilts to tell of our purpose. The City Town Crier - Alan Bills - gave us a sterling announcement and I danced my first full demonstration jig.

At this point I should mention that my ability to find the beat and stick to it has been severely hampered by being a failed rhythm method baby. As I jig my lips can be seen to be counting - often in the completely wrong place - so any dance purists present were about to kill themselves laughing. Still I never claimed to be anything other than a Fool.

We then danced a huge Farandole throughout the Farmers' Market (this a line dance with the whole audience holding hands) and after some very generous applause and cheering we were on our way.

Firstly through the streets of Bristol and then onto the Cycle Path out to Westerleigh Village   Then cross country to   Chipping Sodbury to finish at the Church of John the Baptist. Beautiful weather and a good reception from most. Some people we met:

  • Cyclists in a hurry who would ring their bells in annoyance and then smile over their shoulders as they went past.
  • A cider wielding inebriate, unclear whether to shake hands or 'high 5' then wanted to beat Nicholas' Drum. We upped our pace!
  • A lady fascinated by all things historical who then told us she was born before her time. We agreed as we left her that she had probably meant 'after her time'. Or was she a visionary?
  • A man with a map who claimed to be able to show us the way back to the 17 th century
  • A Husband and wife on cycles. We danced past them in great display as they pulled out their video camera and then had to crawl back with tail between legs after discovering our wrong turning.
  • Many horses, some whose sense of rhythm was quite phenomenal and all very interested in the spectacle.
  • Young children in Westerleigh village who considered us 'well weird' but laughed none the less at our antics.
  • A farmer whose daughter turned out to be a wedding planner - more work for the future!
  • A mother and grown up daughter, really excited because they had heard us on Radio Bristol that morning.
  • Our Support Driver and adjudicator - Wayne - who kept appearing in the most unexpected places, with a smile on his face and fresh supplies of water and food.

En route we hacked our way through undergrowth for over a mile, following our map to a bridge under the M4.

'Trust me Nick,'   says I 'If I there is no bridge then I promise I will carry you all the way back and leave all route finding to you in perpetuity.'

Then we hacked our way all the way back again after finding the bridge blocked off by barbed wire.

Nick is very heavy.

He got his own back not a mile down the road by dropping the map and holding us up while he went back to look for it.

Arrival in Chipping Sodbury was a real treat. Drivers hooting and taking pictures on their camera phones. I think we had just gone out on the ITV local news so everyone was really excited to see us.

Rather a fitting end to a first daie's wonder I feel.

 

Arrival 16.09 12th July Chipping Sodbury